Financial Adviser Service Awards  

Mortgages: 5-star providers

 

Just

Key activities

  1. Just was recognised by Plain English campaign for documents relating to its life and pension products and it has rewritten a further 150 documents.
  2. Provided education and training to help advisers identify and advise potentially vulnerable customers – especially relevant in the lifetime mortgages sector. Just has helped more than 300 advisers complete a Dementia Friends course.
  3. More than 600 advisers have attended Just ‘Adviser Forums’.
  4. Worked with compliance firm Thistle Initiatives, to help advisers and compliance officers reduce their exposure to risks.
  5. Relaunch of brand.

Upcoming plans

  1. Plain English to be rolled out across all staff activity.
  2. Continuing vulnerable customers work.
  3. Continuing with adviser forums.
  4. Compliance forums.
  5. Assessing operations and seeing if they can be changed to help colleagues look after customers better.  

Stephen Lowe, group communications director, said: "Growth in the lifetime mortgage sector has accelerated in the last 12 months and competition has intensified. Against this backdrop, at Just we’ve been busy successfully integrating our two businesses at pace. It’s a great credit to our people that we’ve maintained our focus on providing advisers with outstanding customer service as well as supporting them to deal with the changing and challenging market in which they operate."

 

More 2 Life

Key activities

  1. Made improvements to online portal to make it even easier to use.
  2. Introduced dedicated adviser support personnel and direct dial numbers to give advisers faster access to the team.
  3. Focused on back office process improvements to speed up the processing of applications and to get to offer even faster than ever.
  4. Bringing in new staff and developing existing employees.
  5. Continued to work with funders and used feedback from advisers to improve lending criteria and underwriting processes.

Upcoming plans

  1. Make further improvements to online portal, adding new functionalities.
  2. Having accelerated the application-to-offer process, More 2 Life now wants to speed up the time frame from offer to completion.
  3. New products.
  4. Extend adviser support and development initiatives.

Stuart Wilson, channel marketing director, said: "More 2 Life is focused on delivering even more lending options over the next five years, bringing new funding to this rapidly expanding market. We are known as an innovator and pioneer in the equity release market and we intend to build on that reputation to become the UK’s leading provider of later life lending solutions."

 

Coventry Building Society

Key activities

  1. Extended the opening hours for intermediary development team by one hour, so brokers can now call between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.
  2. Introduced procuration fees for product transfers this year to recognise the work intermediaries have to undertake in order to give advice.
  3. Made process of paying procuration fees easier and quicker.
  4. Developed easy-to-use offering for brokers and their clients following the changes to buy-to-let rules and regulations.
  5. Continued investment in staff.

Upcoming plans

  1. Will continue to listen to the views of brokers and make improvements.
  2. Continued investment in a new team of business development managers to further support brokers in the field.
  3. Continuing to publish service levels on website every day, allowing brokers to make an informed choice when placing business.
  4. Will continue with pledge to give 48 hours’ notice of product withdrawals.
  5. Investing in new telephony system

Kevin Purvey, director of intermediaries: “We continually strive to deliver consistently strong service levels, and recognition of this shows that our continued investment is appreciated by brokers – which is what matters to us the most."

 

Santander

Key activities

  1. Made intermediary support tool easier to use, taking feedback direct from brokers to simplify the format.
  2. Enhancements made to online affordability calculator, giving brokers the numbers they need quickly.
  3. Launched retention procuration fees and an online retention platform for brokers to transact on.
  4. Launched chatbot to provide instant responses to simple questions.
  5. Systems changes enabling underwriting and support teams to make more calls to brokers and reduce application process times.

Upcoming plans

  1. Looking to roll out a specific service charter going into next year with broker commitments.
  2. Launching a livechat pilot later this year alongside telephone support.
  3. Lending and policy enhancements. 

Graham Sellar, head of business development at Santander Mortgages, said: "We work tirelessly to support brokers and their customers, we are always looking at how we can build on and improve our existing offering, working to provide a simple and secure service to all intermediaries across the UK. We hugely value the work the intermediary market does and work hard to deliver them excellent products and services to support them."

 

 Scottish Widows Bank

Key activities

  1. Simplified evidence requirements to support applications, for example, no longer asking for certified documents.
  2. Migrated to an upgraded platform to improve service.
  3. Set up separate team for large loans to improve service.
  4.   Recently increased the size of new business team by 20 per cent. New team members are being trained.
  5. Introduced automated valuations for remortgages to speed up time to full offer.

Upcoming plans

  1. Introduction of an online application system to provide real-time case tracking, status alerts, improved document upload and simplified application forms.
  2. Will instruct valuations earlier in process to speed up time to full offer.
  3. Further advance process will be fully online.

Martin Fleming, managing director, Scottish Widows Bank, said: "2017 has been a year of change. We put service first and it is great to see the improvements we have made in our service reflected in the scores we have received from advisers and their clients.  Even more impressive is that we have achieved this result whilst doubling our market share and delivering a major upgrade to our platform."

 

Accord Mortgages

Key activities

  1. Trained more than 100 caseworkers to underwriter level.
  2. Mortgage advisers deal with one underwriter from start to finish of application.
  3. Increased the number of applications approved in principle which are accepted on the system.
  4. Reduced documentation requirements.
  5. Rolled out welcome hamper initiative to strengthen relationships between advisers and their clients.

Upcoming plans

  1. Training more staff.
  2. Investing in and upgrading mortgage platform.
  3. New products and entering new markets.

David Robinson, national intermediary sales manager, said: “For us to have this recognition and change in perception, it has been a long, hard journey – not without its challenges. We will keep investing in the work we have done over the past 12 months. The other work we are doing to add to the service angle is make sure we continue to support brokers in other ways.”